Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
4 p.m., CBS
"Guys, come on – they're the seventh-ranked team in the country. Wow… If somebody tries to sell that to you, let me know, because I can sell you a lot of old golf balls and crap. Two weeks before our [first] game, they were playing better basketball than anybody in the ACC. Period. Right now, they've won four in a row. Who else has won four in a row in this league? Who else? Nobody." -- UNC head coach Roy Williams on if Duke is overmatched heading into Sunday
"They'll probably back off of me -- according to them, I can't shoot. Or they might put somebody more athletic on me, like Gerald [Henderson] or Elliot Williams. Either one of those two things is what I feel like they're going to do." -- UNC's Ty Lawson on how Duke will prevent another 25-point performance
"Right now, we're not looking ahead too much. Guys are worn out. We need to rejuvenate ourselves and take some time. We're beat up right now." – Duke forward Gerald Henderson, following Tuesday's win over Florida State
Season to Date: Duke enters Sunday's contest with a 25-5 (11-4 ACC) record. Since losing to North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 11, the Blue Devils won five of their six outings, including an impressive 101-91 victory over Wake Forest on Feb. 22. With a victory against the Tar Heels this weekend, head coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad would clinch a tie for the program's 19th ACC regular-season title. Duke has not been overwhelming in true road games this season, however, boasting a 6-4 mark in hostile settings.
Henderson Stepping Up: The junior forward ranks 10th in the ACC in scoring (16.7 points per game), but he has emerged as Duke's go-to option in conference play, where he is averaging 20.2 points per game (4th ACC). Henderson has led the Blue Devils in scoring in five straight games, including a 35-point performance against the Demon Deacons. Arguably his best two overall showings have occurred in the last week against Virginia Tech and Florida State, combining for 42 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
New Lineup Changes Working: After losing four of six games to drop out of the top spot in the league standings, Krzyzewski shuffled his starting lineup by inserting freshman guard Elliot Williams and moving shooting guard Jon Scheyer over to the point. The Blue Devils have now won four consecutive outings. Williams is averaging 11.6 points per game during this stretch, and provides a significant upgrade in athleticism to a Duke backcourt was exposed defensively against North Carolina in February.
Defensive Concerns: Duke entered the last matchup between these two rivals with a 39.5 field goal percentage defense mark (2nd in ACC play). But North Carolina knocked down 54.8 percent of its shots against the Blue Devils, and they've struggled ever since to regain their previous form. Six of Duke's last seven opponents have connected on 48.0 percent of more of their field goal attempts, including four adversaries that shot 54.0 percent or better (UNC, Boston College, St. Johns, Wake Forest). The Blue Devils currently hold down the No. 10 spot in league play, allowing their opponents to shoot 44.6 percent from the floor.
Making Every Possession Count: The Blue Devils have greatly benefited by their ability to hold on to the ball while not allowing their opposition to do the same. Duke is committing the fewest amount of turnovers in ACC play (11.1), and forcing the most (16.6), which adds up to a staggering plus-5.47 turnover margin. Maryland comes in second with a plus-2.73 mark.
Injuries Taking a Toll: Four different Blue Devils are battling injuries entering the weekend. Senior forward Lance Thomas sprained his left ankle against Florida State, and eventually left the building on crutches. He is listed as day-to-day, along with junior center Brian Zoubek (broken nose vs. FSU). Sophomore guard Nolan Smith is still recovering from a concussion he received last week at Maryland, and Scheyer is expected to play despite suffering an ankle sprain, also against the Seminoles.
Last Meeting: North Carolina rallied past Duke, 101-87, on Feb. 11, 2009 in Durham, N.C. Ty Lawson scored 21 of his season-high 25 points in the second half, slicing and dicing his way through the Blue Devil defense. Tyler Hansbrough added 17 points and six rebounds, hitting, while Danny Green (15 points and five rebounds), Wayne Ellington (15 points and seven boards) and Deon Thompson (14 points, including 10 in the first half) also scored in double figures.
Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with Duke, 129-97. North Carolina has beaten the Blue Devils in six of the last eight meetings between the two programs, including five of the last six. UNC is 58-31 against Duke in Chapel Hill and 13-10 in the Smith Center, despite the Blue Devils winning seven of the last 10 in Chapel Hill.
Projected Starters: 20 Elliot Williams (6-4, 180, Fr.) - 4.2 ppg 30 Jon Scheyer (6-5, 185, Jr.) - 14.0 ppg, 2.8 apg 15 Gerald Henderson (6-4, 215, Jr.) – 16.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg 12 Kyle Singler (6-8, 235, So.) - 16.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg 42 Lance Thomas (6-8, 220, Jr.) – 5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg Key Reserves: 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, 185, Sr.) – 5.7 ppg 55 Brian Zoubek (7-1, 280, Jr.) – 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg 14 David McClure (6-6, 215, Sr.) – 2.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Henderson ... Singler
Scheyer ... Paulus
McClure ... Williams
(Photos courtesy Getty)